Cutting Through The Crap

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mysterious Ways


Speaking, as I recently was, of choosing to vote to harm others, maybe there's another reason for the hate-voters to think twice. Just days after the CEO of Chick-Fil-A said America will suffer the judgment of god if it supports same-sex marriage, the company's long-time spokesman dropped dead. Smote. Looks like god made a judgment all right.

And for those who'd argue it's meaningless since god nailed the guy next to him, I'd point to all the instances of god's wrath -- floods, hurricanes, the usual biblical armamentarium -- claimed by the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson over the years, when he seemed to prefer wiping out random innocents to prove his point.

So. Watch out. Looks like his aim is getting better.

Healthy Jews



This may be the best example I've seen of how diseased the R party in general and its flag-bearer in particular have become. In Israel, home of his BFF, The Rominee has gone all gushy over their health care system.

... according to The New York Times, Romney spoke favorably about the fact that health care makes up a much smaller amount of Israel’s gross domestic product compared to the United States:

“Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the G.D.P. in Israel? Eight percent,” he said. “You spend eight percent of G.D.P. on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our G.D.P. on health care, 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, compare that with the size of our military — our military which is 4 percent, 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of G.D.P. We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.”

Israel spends less on health care because of a universal health system that requires everyone to have insurance. Every Israeli citizen has the obligation to purchase health care services through one of the country’s four HMOs since government officials approved the National Health Insurance Law in 1995. People pay for 40 percent of their HMO’s costs through income-related contributions collected through the tax system, and the state pays the remaining 60 percent. And by many standards, Israelis are getting better health care than U.S. citizens. The infant mortality rate is much lower, and its mortality rate due to heart disease is half the U.S. rate.


See? It's a universal health care system, with government controls and -- get this!! -- an individual mandate. The sort of stuff that, whereas it was once advocated by Republicans, has been evil incarnate since Ds, and especially that black guy, took up the cause.

Of all the demagoguery over health care, the worst by far, and the most cynical and hypocritical, has been the teabaggR/RWS™ reaction to the first honest attempts to control health care costs in some way other than by reducing pay to providers and hospitals. By attacking effectiveness research as "death panels" and "government takeover" and "killing grandma," Rs have abandoned a formerly central tenet of conservatism, and something for which they'd advocated for decades: controlling Medicare costs. In doing so, they've made meaningful cost control all the harder, if not impossible. But they don't care. It's not about improving the country. It's about winning at all costs; and since lying -- absent any sort of positive agenda -- is the best they've got, it's what they do.

The Rominee, of course, has never had two sequentially consistent thoughts in a row; so when he praises Israel's health care, it's just another attempt to wring money out of the Sheldon Adelsons of the world. That in one swell foop he negated everything he's ever said about Obamneycare since he started running for president didn't occur to him, evidently. He says what he says at a given moment for its effect on the audience of the moment. Coherency of message, that hobgoblin, is the last thing on his mind. His principles: QNS.

Were he to translate what he said in Israel (about health care, not capitol cities) to his presidency, there might be hope for getting something done (his words about Jerusalem have already undone much). But on what evidence, based on current behavior towards the craziest of his base, should we think such a thing possible?




Playbook


As Knight follows Nike, Rs are aghast and outraged that some people didn't like what Mr Chick-Fil-A (how gay is a guy named Cathy?) said about gays.

Former Minnesota governor and top Romney surrogate Tim Pawlenty said he found statements made by public officials against Chick-Fil-A “chilling” and “jaw-dropping” at a roundtable with voters in Cary, North Carolina on Saturday,reports First Read. The chain has recently come under fire for president Dan Cathy’s anti-gay marriage comments, including from the mayor of Boston who wants to keep the fast-food chain from coming to Boston.

“Now you have the police power of government intimidating and threatening people, being used to intimidate and threaten people, based on their free speech rights and their religious views,” Pawlenty said in response to a question about the controversy. “I mean it’s chilling. I mean it’s stunning, it is jaw-dropping. And so I think strong people who see this need to stand up and say no we don’t do that in the United States.”

It's straight from the RWS™ Palinoid playbook: they claim the right to say whatever they want, no matter how hateful. And, indeed, as Americans, they have that right. But when people respond in the negative, well, that's violation of free speech. And if the hate-speaker happens to be the CEO of a business, wading into political controversy dragging his religion behind him, evidently when people suggest that business is no longer welcome*, well, that's a violation, too. We've seen it over and over again.

Of course, it's not surprising: the right wing claims sole ownership of the love of democracy and capitalism; but their view of ownership evidently includes the exclusive right to exercise it.

What a strange group are they.
________________________________________

* It's a lie within a lie, naturally. The mayor of Boston (and SF, and Chicago) never said he would or could block them from coming to town. He said he hoped they wouldn't come. And what, exactly, is wrong with that? Cathy shoots off his mouth, mayors do the same. Free speech. I'll have to reread the Constitution, because I missed where it says free speech only flows from right to left.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Found One!!

Okay, I can admit it when I'm wrong. I've been saying the cases of documented voter fraud rounds off to zero, and that R justifications for their voter suppression efforts are bullshit. But, by golly, it seems we've come up with a clear case of it.

So, sorry. I take it back. Retroactively.


Hits


Not one to toot (my own horn, anyway), I nevertheless would like to point out that if you Google "Scalia is an ass" (with or with out suffixes), my blog pops up #1. Same with "ACA truth." Or thereabouts, anyway. There are a few other searches which land me on the first page of a million or so hits, too.

I say this not because I think it means a hell of a lot; there's scant evidence I'm changing the world. But to a certain someone who likes to point out, drakonianly, how few comments I get, it might show that there are multiple data points by which to judge a thing. Extrapolating to other issues, it could be a useful point to keep in mind.


Busted


Here's an interesting -- if minor -- followup to a long-forgotten (except for being recently resurrected by Fox "news" commentator and perseverating Obama critic Chuckie K.) story about President Obama's horrible diplomacy screwups. (Good time to bring it up again, eh wot?) Remember the scandal surrounding sending a bust of Sir Winston back to the Brits as soon as Mr Obama took office? An in-your-face, uppity disgrace of an insult to our Anglo-Saxon friends if ever there was, right? Turns out -- and I know you'll be shocked -- it was a tempest in a pot of Earl Grey:

Says James Barbour, press secretary and head of communications for the British Embassy, “The bust of Sir Winston Churchill, by Sir Jacob Epstein, was lent to the George W. Bush administration from the U.K.’s government art collection, for the duration of the presidency. When that administration came to an end so did the loan; the bust now resides in the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington D.C. The White House collection has its own Epstein bust of Churchill, which President Obama showed to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House in March.”

Well, paint me black and call me president! Those silly tricksters have done it again. Never missing an opportunity to rile the rabble, the Foxorovians will say anything, the less true the more attractive.


No Denying


I'm pretty sure I read these results a while ago, but there's an opinion piece that just appeared in the NYT that's worth noting:

CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases...


What makes this statement of the obvious noteworthy is that the aforementioned Berkeley project was funded by those teabagger-backing and propaganda-enabling Koch brothers. (Evidently they didn't control the study, and they deserve credit for that.) So it'll be interesting to see how the RWS™ spin this one. And -- so you'd think, anyway -- it might make those who tend to deny facts simply because "liberals" espouse them reconsider their reflexive rejection of all such things. This report gives hope that even for teabaggRs there's a level of reality that overwhelms willful ignorance. Time will tell; if so, the question is, will it be too late? Will The Rominee flip once again? Will he show regard for truth, even when his base base demands otherwise? He never has.

So we can safely predict it won't happen; truth, and facts, are but a small diversion to be avoided like poop in a pathway. Still, they're gonna have to do some mighty fine dissembling with this, given the source. I find it amusing; and I look forward to hearing from the usual suspecters.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Family


What sort of person votes to deny basic rights to other people? Whom does it harm when same-sex couples marry? Even if your religion says homosexuality is a sin (to believe that you have to believe it's a choice, which, like evolution and climate-change denial is to ignore all the scientific evidence), why choose to harm those who believe differently? I'd never vote to ban shrimp cocktails or sacred underpants.

Actually to cast a vote, purposefully, to discriminate against people who pose no threat and who are just as human as you are -- such a thing requires a particular sort of self-righteous ignorance, and the ability to pretend that it's neither hateful nor damaging to innocent people. Whatever casting such a vote is, it is most certainly not Christ-like. It is neither loving of your fellow man, charitable, nor treating others as you'd be treated yourself. What it is is some kind of smug self-satisfaction, a kind of "take that, you people whom I neither know or understand, nor care to look in the eye while I'm doing this. I need to believe I'm better than you, and since I have no real evidence, at least I can do this, and pretend."

There's an initiative on the ballot in my state to overturn our recent law allowing same-sex marriage. Signatures to validate it were higher in number than on any previous initiative, which bodes ill. That I live in a state, a country, where so many people can vote to hurt fellow citizens who represent no threat to them is more than depressing. It's shameful. How can any decent person do it? How can they sleep at night? How can they muster the will to make their mark in such a heartless and harmful way? In the name of a religion so many of whose other teachings they choose to ignore. It's horrifying, it really is.



Friday, July 27, 2012

Evidence


Now, I'm gonna go out on a limb and extrapolate here, while leaving it to others to do the definitive experiment: we learned that, of those sadistic people who went out of their way to kill a non-threatening animal, 90% were SUV drivers. My bet is that if you were to interview those people you'd also find that virtually all of them are Fox-listening wingnuts.

Which is not to say that SUV drivers are all a bunch of killers. Ninety-four percent of drivers, after all, did what sane people would do; ie, drove on by. And many SUV drivers are liberals, no doubt. But of the deliberate swervers of their SUVs to kill, well, who does that? Tree-hugging vegans?


Советский Союз


In yet another multi-layered example of Romney's mendacity, his campaign is warning against the threat represented by "the Soviet Union." I wonder: do they not know there's no longer a Soviet Union, or do they figure their supporters don't? Absent any positive reason to cast a vote for their man, do they figure they can get people to vote for him out of fear of the Red Menace? (It's worked on at least one of my readers, after all.)

It's almost unspeakably amazing to me how limited is the R game plan. Ever since Ronald Reagan, they've played the same cards: tax cuts, deregulation, fear mongering about outside threats, and playing to bigotry. In the case of the first two, no matter how many times they've been tried, it's never worked. Fear mongering, of course, is tried and true. Nothing works better on the carefully teabagged than fear. It's their stock in trade. It's what made the RWS™ millionaires, and what keeps Fox "news" on the air. But, really: the Soviet Union??

It's typical of The Rominee that he has lots to say in criticism of President Obama and virtually nothing to say about what he'd do himself. (Okay, he has a solution to gun violence: change American hearts. He didn't specify how he'd accomplish that; magic underwear, maybe. But he did say laws aren't the answer, because the Colorado shooter had obtained his guns illegally. Which, in fact, he had not!!)

Barely out of the country on a trip to emphasize his foreign policy credentials, The Rominee had already screwed up vis a vis Australia and The UK before his Sovyetski slipup. So, beyond making false claims about Obama's foreign policy, he has only errors to show for himself. (Sounds like they're reading his book over there, too, and they don't much like it.) When you have no core, and when you're willing to say whatever you're told, it's what happens. Then, left to your own devices, needing to say something before you're informed what it is you think, you blurt, and fail. Add to that his economic plans that everyone agrees are useless at best, and devastating at worst, how can it possibly be that people support the guy?

I'm a generous, benefit-of-the-doubt person; but Mitt Romney is starting to give me a really sick feeling. And, as opposed to those made crazy by the idea of that black guy in that white house, my feelings are based on the observable; which is to say, on reality. Looking at it from any direction, he is seriously unfit to be president. If he wins, he'll have done so by lying; by making stuff up; by changing with the wind; he'll have done it on the money from a small number of really rich and selfish people.

And then what?


Truly Pathological


I'm not gonna take the time to look up the official definition of "pathological liar," but I'm pretty sure it's someone who can't stop doing it, and to whom the idea of lying isn't bothersome in the least. Whatever the definition, unless there's a term for a form of lying that's even worse, then Mitt Romney is the poster child. I think it's now at the point where it's safe to say you can't believe a single thing he says. Not one damn thing. The default assumption of any thoughtful person, regarding Mitt Romney, ought to be if he said it, it's a lie.

I refer to a revelation about his having claimed special friendship with Bibi Netanyahu. When he first said it, I was surprised, but, also, impressed. And a little worried. Partly because I think Bibi is way too militant and is doing harm to Israel; but mostly because The Rominee as much as admitted that, when it comes to Israel, he'd call his BFF and say, tell me what to do and I'll do it. Literally, pretty much. In one of the debates: ROMNEY: "I'd get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, 'Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do?'"

Silly me. It didn't even occur to me -- and I've done nearly nothing around here but point out Romney's incessant and bizarre lying -- that he'd also be lying about something like that. When, you know, the other guy might actually be listening. Or eventually hear about it by telegram, or smoke signal...
“Israel’s current prime minister is not just a friend, he’s an old friend,” Mitt Romney, with whom Netanyahu worked at the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s, told aipac in March. (Romney, Netanyahu suggests, may have overstated the tie. “I remember him for sure, but I don’t think we had any particular connections,” he tells me. “I knew him and he knew me, I suppose.”)

Which is sort of in conflict with an interview with
The New York Times: ROMNEY: "We [Mitt & Netanyahu] can almost speak in shorthand. We share common experiences and have a perspective and underpinning which is similar."

So our next president, if teabaggers and the billionaires who make them think they think what they think have their way, lies about being a close friend of Netanyahu, prior to which he lied about a conversation with an Australian government guy. Following which he travels to The United Kingdom (he called it by the wrong name) where, after making sure his wife's dancing horse is strictly off limits in conversation and in person (in horse?), he steps all over his dick politically. (The British are tweeting. The British are tweeting. Under the hashtag "American Borat!)

C'mon, teabaggers. C'mon anyone who calls themselves a conservative but still claims the ability to think. This is not normal. This is beyond amusing or quirky. It's goddam scary. Mitt Romney, demonstrably, without any question, is a person who might be president and who simply can't stop lying, who does it so easily -- even when it's obvious and unnecessary -- that it's no longer possible to trust anything he says.

His campaign, having abandoned (moved to number two on the list, really) its central lie about Obama apologizing for America is now, based on another overt and obvious lie in the form of cynical editing, claiming Obama hates entrepreneurs; and he's now building his campaign around that lie. While audiences eat it up.

Is there a more embarrassing picture of American democracy? Mitt Romney treats his potential voters as if they're idiots (well, until they prove otherwise....), lies to them freely and with no compunction whatever; and he travels around the world lying to and about world leaders, while spreading stupidity like Rafalca's (isn't that name a little unAmerican?) manure.

Mitt Romney claims Obama apologizes for America. At this point, it's America that needs to apologize for Mitt Romney.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Your Congress At Work

[From Bloomberg Business. Click to enlarge.]

When I mentioned something about this recently, a commenter pointed out Ds control the Senate. Well, yeah. But it's Rs in the House that are the problem. Voting thirty one times to repeal Obamacare. Passing gratuitous stuff for political purposes that they know will be rejected by the Senate. And the Senatorial Rs have filibustered virtually every piece of actual legislation proposed by Ds, taking obstructionism to hitherto unseen levels, making sure Obama gets nothing, and the economy continues to struggle.

Other than their commitment to sabotage, these are seriously unserious people, wholly disinterested in governance or in meaningful attention to our serious problems.

And, fully prepared to turn governing over to these people, no one on the right seems to care.

[Breaking news!!! I may have been too hard on them. The House just passed a resolution condemning the shooting in Colorado, and did so "in the strongest possible terms." Ignoring questions about gun control, the legislation included no actual action. But still: What bravery. What out-neck-sticking leadership in the face of ... nothing. Nice going guys. You inspire our nation.]

[Meanwhile, it'll be interesting to see what the House does about the Bush tax cuts, the Senate having passed, with no R support, a bill to extent the cuts only for those making less than the magical $250K. Rs, as we've just read here, prefer to do just the opposite: raise taxes on those below, and lower them for those above.]

Bogus


Well, sure, okay, it was an article in the Huffington Post, and the economists interviewed were presumably selected by them. But, knowing the narrowness and already-shown-to-be-ineffective-ness of the R view of job creation, is there reason to doubt the conclusions? The Republican "job-creation" plans are nearly worthless. It's a meaty article, worth reading in full. And the economists are from a broad background, with non-unanimous opinions:

"A lot of these things are laughable in terms of a jobs plan that would produce noticeable improvements ... in the next four or five years," said Gary Burtless, a senior economist at Brookings. "Even in the long run, if they have any effect all, it would be extremely marginal..."

Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics, agreed that the bills would have almost no effect on job creation in the short term, though he was slightly more optimistic about their long-term prospects.

"These kind of changes will matter over a period of three to five years," Zandi said. "It takes that long before businesses can digest changes and respond to them."

He noted, though, that legislation as narrowly targeted as the Republican package is unlikely to do much for real job creation.

[...]

Carl Riccadonna, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank, said some of the bills could create jobs, but that they would amount to more of an afterthought in terms of achieving broader policy goals.

"They are very narrowly targeted, and it gives the impression that maybe some of this is special interest really pursuing these, not really taking a macro view ..."


There is a bright spot, however. Looks like there'll be more jobs for doctors and nurses and morticians:

Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, warned that any potential job creation from environmental deregulation could be offset by health concerns.

"If you increase employment but you have a lot more sick people, you have to ask yourself, 'What's the trade-off?'" he said. ...

Indeed, environmental advocates argue that many of the GOP proposals are more likely to kill people than create jobs.

"It won't save them jobs, it won't even save them that much money, but it is going to cause illnesses, deaths ...,” said Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That's why we have all these environmental laws.”


On the matter of cutting taxes on business, the article is fair and balanced:

Even one of the more popular bills in the mix -- a small business tax cut -- won't do much for job creation, some of the economists said. They argued that it's not that businesses need more money for hiring, but that they need a sufficient demand for their products. [Interjection from your host: It's not only obvious, but what I've been saying, over and over.]

"They know that if they hire people to produce more widgets, they won't be able to sell the widgets," Prakken said. "Giving them a tax break just increases their profits," but doesn't encourage hiring.

Riccadonna disagreed. He acknowledged that weak demand is the biggest problem facing businesses, but said the small business tax cut is still the most likely of all the GOP bills to create jobs.

.... "... anything that makes life or operating conditions a little bit easier for them, that I would certainly be in favor of. That will have a meaningful jobs impact."


On one point, there was unanimity:

Ultimately, each economist was clear on one point: The GOP package is far more political than practical.

[...]

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel demurred when asked for a response. He reiterated that Senate Democrats are holding up their job-creation bills.

Of course they are, and well they should: plans that will gut environmental regulation but do nothing to create jobs ought never see the light of day. What's left of it, that is.

[For those who don't trust HuffPo, here's another article that says much the same about R talking points.]

Meanwhile, you'd think even Obama-hatred wouldn't be enough for normal people to accept the R tax plan, which, amazingly enough, calls for tax cuts on the wealthy while increasing taxes on everyone else. Really. While taxes on the wealthy are near all-time lows; while the wealthy have sequestered a higher percentage of the country's wealth than ever before, doing far better than ever; and while the rest of the people face stagnating wages and ever-decreasing share in the country's success, Rs stand ready to increase the disparity even more. And still their sheep don't oink. It's beyond belief.


Voter Fraud Fraud


Voting rights. Not a Republican thing.

Wingnuttery notwithstanding (they'll still tell you Acorn was committing registration fraud, which they didn't), data have always shown that voter fraud is a non-problem. Now, from that cradle of liberty where voter registration laws have already been admittedly crafted to defeat President Obama, comes another admission: there's never been a single case of fraudulent voting.

"There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states,” the statement reads.

According to the agreement, the state “will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,” nor will it "offer argument or evidence that in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absense of the Photo ID law.”

So. The Republican-controlled legislature has written, and their Republican governor has signed, a law to solve a non-existent problem; one which wouldn't be affected whether the law was in place or not. But what does it accomplish? Gee. Let's hear from them, those people who claim to love liberty, the Constitution, and -- except when they don't -- democracy:

"...Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

The statement drew a loud round of applause from the audience. It also struck a nerve among critics, who called it an admission that they passed the bill to make it harder for Democrats to vote — and not to prevent voter fraud as the legislators claimed.

I'll ask again: how much mendacity, how much overt rejection of basic democratic principles, how much deception in the name of tax cuts for the very wealthy at the expense of everything else will it take for thoughtful conservatives to reject their current representation and demand better? How long can decent people keep rationalizing their party's dishonesty and destructiveness by believing, against the evidence, the RWS™ blather?

Sadly, it looks like we're far from that line, if it even exists. Their ginned-up hatred of Barack Hussein Obama is greater than their love of country. Or, rather, they've been trained to think love of country demands its destruction. Shades of Ben Tre.

Deliberately, their ability to see what's happening has been carefully obscured by those who stand to gain the most when democracy works the least. And how easy it's been!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Irreconcilable Differences


As The Rominee, smiley sleazebag that he's now showing himself to be, harps on the unAmerican "otherness" (subtle, huh?*) of Barack Obama, he and his also like to fall back on the "Chicago-style politics" trope.**

So which is it, Mitt? Is our president unAmerican, or is he heir to that most American of activities, Chicago-style politics?

That's the trouble with lies: when you have a few good ones, it's hard to give one up, even when it conflicts with the others.
_________________________________________

* You want subtle? How about this quote from The Rominee's guy, to England:
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.
Are you racist, conservatives? Mitt Romney thinks you are. But you don't care, do you?


** Good quote from that link:

One of the most memorable phrases from that era comes from a story often told by former White House Counsel Abner J. Mikva, who described attempting to volunteer on a local campaign in the late 1940s.

“Who sent you?” asked the cigar-chomping 8th Ward precinct captain.

“Nobody sent me,” replied Mikva.

“We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

Nose, Face, Spite


Turns out those teabagger-elected congressfolk, in their zeal to make a point by taking us to the brink in last year's debt-ceiling fight, cost the country (the love of which they profess, along with their commitment to fiscal sanity) about one-point-three trillion bucks, according to the GAO.

The extraordinary actions Treasury took during 2011 and January 2012 to manage federal debt when delays in raising the debt limit occurred were consistent with relevant authorizing legislation and regulations. However, delays in raising the debt limit can create uncertainty in the Treasury market and lead to higher borrowing costs. We estimated that delays in raising the debt limit in 2011 led to an increase in Treasury’s borrowing costs of about $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2011.


Honest to that guy in whom teabaggRs claim to believe, that "do unto others" guy, I can't see how any sane, rational, America-loving, thinking person could vote for these people. Or their anointed Rominee. They have no positive agenda, no ideas that are judged workable or which haven't already been shown to be unworkable. Tried and failed. As recently as three-plus years ago.

Which explains the nonstop effort by billionaire-backed PACs and propaganda networks poorly disguised as news organizations to create a false image of President Obama and Democrats. The only reason to vote for Rs -- and a recent commenter proved it -- is if you've been made to fear that mysterious Kenyan Muslim America-hating secret planner more than you fear the actual, real, not made-up consequences of the announced plans of Rs. Which is easy to do, since those plans have been obscured and obfuscated to perfection, by design, and with the overt cooperation of Fox "news" and the rest of the RWS™.

And so, without a moment's reflection about having been made to think that way, or who stands to gain from their sheeply in-buying, my reader brushed off my questions about the impact of the Ryan/Rominee budget on our future, to focus on a remark Obama made to Medvedev (not Putin), picked up by the RWS™ like Larry Craig in a men's room, which was neither dastardly nor anything but obvious: after the election, when R demagoguery will have less effect, he'd be freer to deal rationally with arms control.

I doubt a harp knows when it's being played; but I'm absolutely certain teabaggers have no clue at all. Which is exactly how the Koch brothers, and Roger Ailes and Karl Rove and their disinclined plane Mitt Romney want it.

Shame on you, teabaggers, as George W Bush so famously said.


Never Alone


As the examples mount up, it's impossible to point to any lie which stands above the rest; but the Romney video of Obama's words about business-builders is about as exemplary as it gets. He'll try, but he'll never top his way (the copyrighted RWS™/Republican politician way) of accusing his opponent of doing that which he's done himself. Because, in this case, he actually had to decontextualize and edit what his opponent said, and then hide the fact that he's said it himself. (And, amusingly enough, that the featured businessman in his dishonest ad got $800K of government help, righteous claims to the contrary notwithstanding.)

So Barack Obama made a statement about how success in America never happens alone: you had teachers, you drove on roads someone else built, you probably used a light bulb at some time and likely used indoor plumbing... you know, something so obvious it's been said before by such people as Elizabeth Warren and FDR, and that flaming liberal (well, he was once, by comparison) Mitt Romney.

Take something Obama said, make it sound like he said the opposite, then say what he actually said yourself. Gotta hand it to the guy: I mean, that's third-order dishonesty, raising the bar to impossible levels. Obama's statement is true. Everything Romney says about it -- as is the case with everything else he says about Obama -- is false.

Wingers, of course, see the ad as a "game changer", and who can say they're wrong? Because it's obvious that the fewer the facts and the more the mendacity the better they buy it. But it hardly changes the game. Not their game, anyway. It's exactly the way they've played it since Newt and Karl came on the scene; and, as sure as dogs get diarrhea on car roofs, it'll persist until conservatives demand better.

Forever, in other words.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ride On, Sally


How can you not admire Sally Ride. She was so much more than an astronaut. I wonder if The Rominee knew she was gay, and that his stated policies would hurt her deeply. If so, he chose not to mention it. This woman, who, some would say, flew closer to god than any of us, doesn't deserve simple human rights, according to Mitt. Soulless, shameless hypocrite that he is, Mr Romney, along with the rest of the bigots now controlling conservatism in the US, would rather not think about the human consequences of his pandering.

It's worse, of course, in his case: at least the teabaggRs have been consistent in their religious-inspired hatred; The Rominee, who has no values that aren't for sale, flipped like a mouse-trap chain reaction when his whetted wind-finger told him to.


Fair


It's fair in that it's true, and fair in the sense that it could be better. The most important points -- about what's at stake in terms of being able to invest in and have a future -- were nearly throwaway at the end, and need to be hit much harder; specifying the fact that by their own admission (braggadocio, more like) the R plan makes it impossible.


Unfair Fight


I came to a conclusion as I read this article about Rachel Maddow: reflective and introspective people -- ie, liberals -- look at the world and get depressed. Conservatives -- the current dominant American variety, anyway, who are anything but reflective or introspective -- look at the world and get angry and scared. The former -- and I suppose I could be personalizing a little too much -- leads to a point at which one is tempted to throw in the towel, while the latter leads to monomaniacal obsession, laced with a heavy dose of paranoia and conspiracy-theory formation, all aimed at eliminating that which causes the anger. Absent reflective ability and desire for insight, the focus is outward; as an act of perceived self-preservation (in the form of walling off all self-doubt) it becomes single-minded and unbound by any other ethos than survival at all costs.

If I'm right, it helps explain the seeming disadvantage liberals have in messaging: hard to keep your heart in the fight if the more you examine reality the more it bums you out. On the other side, anger and paranoia are great motivators; and the wronger you are, the more wild the conspiracies you can dream up, the more you're able to justify striking out by any means. For liberals, in the long term, it seems a losing proposition.

I've written (based on actual studies) that, unlike liberals, conservatives tend to harden their views when presented with information that disproves them. If so, it would seem there's no way to change things. It's inherent to how the differing minds work. Reality is hard. It can be depressing, all right, especially in a country where it's under constant siege. But for those to whom that reality is at cross-purposes with the beliefs to which they must cling to maintain a foothold on their version of sanity, it's infuriating. Because it's threatening to their very core.

So you see Texans coming out and admitting they want to eliminate the sort of education that makes kids think for themselves. You see them wanting to repeal voting rights. You see Republicans around the land coming up with laws that prevent incursion into their false reality by anyone who doesn't look and think and pray exactly like they do. Compared to the unfettered paranoia and conspiracy theorizing motivating the right, the left are virtually weaponless.

Since, for conservatives of the current type, it's a matter of self-preservation, of prevention of the need to see the world as it is, there's no means that doesn't justify the end of keeping the cracks sealed. But for liberals, willing to see the world for what it is (or unable to kid themselves, much as, maybe, they'd like to), it's well, I wish it were different, but it isn't, and there's not much I can do about it.

Of course, that's exactly not what Rachel does, so maybe I'm wrong. But it's an interesting thought; and, other than the giving up part -- for some, anyway -- I think it might be correct. Adrenaline beats oxytocin.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Taxing Patience


Confession: although I don't think how The Rominee played footsie with taxes is the dispositive issue of the campaign, I'm curious as hell to know what's in those earlier returns, and why he's so determined to be the first candidate ever to be so stingy with them.

I figured the identity of Deep Throat would never be revealed in my lifetime, so I suppose I could be wrong; but I'm pretty sure we'll never know the answer to that one; unless, maybe, after he's president and screws things up so bad that we're on our way to extinction, someone at the IRS, or a former Bain insider, lets the catastrophe out of the bag.


Wealth Redistribution



Through the link-maze known as the intertubes, a guy who has a teabagger blog came across one of my posts, and proceeded to deconstruct it on his site.* Since then I've engaged in a couple of comment exchanges with him over there (seems he didn't much want to press his arguments here.) Anyhow, it revolved around the idea that I refuse to used the word "socialism" to describe the Affordable Care Act, and, in a tone less argumentative than what I often use here, I tried to explain why it's, in fact, nothing like socialism.

Well, it turns out he has a particularly teabaggeresque and Foxorovokochian definition of the term; and while it's neither remotely accurate nor, being mouthed repeatedly by his sources of ideas, original, here it is: wealth redistribution.

By that definition, of course, when money changes hands by any means, it's a necessary and sufficient set of circumstances to define socialism. Well, excepting anything that takes money from the less well-off and trickles it uphill to the really well-off. That's, well, that's America. That's what the Constitution (his understanding of which seemed as broad and deep as of socialism) demands. If all he knew of socialism is that it redistributes wealth, which indeed it does, like any form of government anywhere and any transaction involving money in any amount, it was obvious we were never going to find a basis for discussing health care. But I tried.

He didn't much like it when I pointed out that one of the greatest episodes of wealth distribution was when Bush cut taxes disproportionately on the wealthy. Nor did he agree with the Supreme Court's calling the ACA constitutional. What's constitutional for a teabagger, he made clear, is only that which supports their particular reading. Not a very, uh, constitutional view of the process, but still. (Helpful analogy: it's like a jury deciding guilt or innocence. It's an imperfect system, but it's the best we can do. Within the rule of law, it is what it is.)

Then he wanted to tie it all to unfettered abortion and forced euthanasia, both of which he sees as the natural next steps from trying to fix health care. I even agreed that abortion is an issue worth addressing, but pointed out it had nothing to do with his perseveration on health care reform as socialism.

Having made his opinions known, and ignoring my specifics about how leaving insurance companies in the middle and in control is anything but socialism, he concluded our exchange (it's his blog: I let him have the last word) by declaring, as if it were the word of god, that America doesn't need government telling it how to run health care, telling people which doctors they can see. (I'm paraphrasing.) Having pledged to stay silent, I didn't point out the obvious: what we have now is private insurers, whose goal is to avoid spending money on health care, telling us how to run the system; and that the ACA has a few rules, all right, but doesn't do a hell of a lot to change that situation.

Well, of course nothing was accomplished, no minds were changed. To me, it was I pointing out reality; to him, it was he. There's just no getting past it. As I wrote over there, it's apples and asparagus. Me, it made depressed. Him, I'm sure, it made angry and self-righteous. In the end, that makes it an unfair fight, and the subject of an upcoming post.
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*I think this is first time I've referred to a site without providing a link. I know I should, but in the end he sort of put me off. Being a teabagger, I'm sure he gets plenty of traffic: no doubt, more than I do.






Saturday, July 21, 2012

Guns and Poses


Gun control. Yada yada. Liberal bleeding hearts. Yada yada. They're coming for your guns. Yada yada. My cold dead hands. Yada yada. Only criminals will have guns. Yada yada. Assault on Judeo-christian values (the judeo part thrown in reluctantly), prayer in schools. Yada yada. He's a teabagger, he's a liberal, he's one of those overeducated elitists, he's a sign of ____
(fill in the blank.) Yada yada. It makes us stronger, it makes us weaker. Yada yada.

Same old, same old. Something for everyone, nothing for anyone.

We're staying in a motel in Portland. It has a bunch of umbrellas in a tube by the door for use by customers. Maybe theaters should have something similar, with guns.


A Few More...


With all the lying, it's hard to remember he's a hypocrite, too.




And an opportunistic, foundationless flipflopper.





All you need to know about creationism, climate-change denial, birtherism, teabaggerism, and every insane conspiracy about Barack Obama.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Plumb Tuckered Out


I've never thought much of Tucker Carlson as a journalist or pretty much anything else, but I gotta hand it to his HuffPo wannabe, The Daily Caller, which has come up with the scoop of the century. Turns out Obama nominated, to that seat of incredible power behind the power known as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a woman who once sent her kids to camp. Yep. Pick yourself off the floor.

Well, okay, I've been a little coy: hold onto your yarmulkes: it was Jewish camp. One which, at its start in the 1920s -- the nineteenfricking twenties!! -- was founded by a bunch of lefties. That bitch. Is all I can say.

Now, as one who happens to have had a life-altering experience at Jewish camp myself, I know whereof he implies, and I can only say, dayenu. It's the poison pill, the lethal latke, the blow-it-up borshch. (That, based on the Russian борщ, is the right spelling, by the way.) Obama is toast. Kreplach. He's a sinking matzo ball in a sea of tsuris. Rush couldn't do it; Sean will never do it. But the what's-he-taking-to-stay-that-way freakishly prepubescent Tucker has found the schmoking schmeckle. She sent her kids to camp. She sent her kids to camp!!

Okay, maybe I'm missing the super-serious point in being snarky. After all, these are Jews we're talking about. They invented the bomb, they explained the universe (hint: it wasn't like the Bible), they killed Jesus, ferchrissakes. (Have to admit I've never gotten that last one: it was part of god's plan, right? Jesus dying is the most central point of Christianity -- besides which, he didn't really die. So if it's true that Jews killed him, why the fuss? If no one had been god's instrument, where'd Christians be today? But I digress.) And, as a guy I used to know told me before his descent into incoherence made him impossible to understand, Jews have always been collaborators. (Or was it corroborators? Who knows?)

So, thanks, Tucker. When all else fails, there's always antisemitism to fall back on. Sort of makes everything I've been saying about the right-wing crazies seem a little mild. Go out there and vote for the other guy, conservatives. These are your people. Meanwhile, you've succeeded in making yourself a laughing stock even for a few on your side.

And that's saying one hell of a lot. From one hell of a lot.




Secret


Remember when candidate John McCain said he knew how to end the war in Afghanistan but wasn't telling? Back then there were those, myself included, who suggested that, as a patriotic American and supporter of our troops, he damn well ought to get the information to George W as fast as his angry little legs would carry him. Well, he didn't; and after losing, it would seem he continued to keep it to himself. Oh well. Blood under the bridge. His to know, ours to find out, maybe, some day.

And now we have Mitt Romney doing the same thing with the economy. He "knows how it works" and knows how to fix it. Based on what he claims credit for (or denies) doing (or not doing) at Bain, when he was (or wasn't) in charge, involving offshoring and outsourcing or not, he knows how to fix our economy and grant us floods of jobs. He knows something, one must assume, that our previous Harvard MBA president never figured out; something up with which big business-experienced advisors to every president in modern history never came (well, there was Citibank's Rubin and Bill Clinton, who oversaw the creation of twenty million jobs and the balancing of the budget; but the secret died with them); something Mitt Romney alone knows, something his experience at Bain, bankrupting companies and firing people, taught him and him alone; something which will defy the history of Reaganomics -- a kernel of knowledge he learned from his amazing and unique experience and guards like that gold-head thing.

For now, I guess he's trying to throw us off track, because so far the only ideas he's suggested have been taken straight from the pre-failed R catechism: tax cuts, deregulation, military increases, decreases in services, and... well that's pretty much it. Big sleeve. Hiding it up. So while we dance around in a ring and suppose, the secret sits in the middle and knows.*

Having a certain emotional stake in the survival of our country, I hope that, win or lose, he'll reveal his special knowledge before it's too late.
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* If you know the line, it'll make sense.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Grid-Lock


Here's an article about America's failing power grids, and the fact that we can't get our politics and politicians together to fix it. Public vs private money, evidently, is the argument. That and, I suppose, unwillingness to do any damn thing that's good for the country as long as Obama favors it. The usual, in other words. (Oh. And the "expert" -- perish the word! -- in this case seems to have a Muslim name.)

Since the early 1990s, according to data gathered by Massoud Amin, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, the number of power outages affecting more than 50,000 people a year has more than doubled, and blackouts now drain between $80 billion and $188 billion from the U.S. economy every year. The power grid is slipping backwards to a time when infrastructure was unreliable, and more and more people are talking about going “off the grid” with solar, batteries, and generators as a result. Will this doom the greater grid, and by extension the greater good?

It’s not easy to keep 450,000 miles of high voltage lines up and humming. But the situation has gotten worse over the years because the U.S. has increased the load on its lines while investing less in the system. ...

Across the power and wonkish sectors, though, there’s a fair amount of agreement that the U.S. needs to make massive investments in the backbone of the grid, as well as in a self-healing grid that can better handle outages (and hackers), and in information technology to make the grid “smart.”...

But in the political climate of the last decade, Americans have not gotten their act together. “We have wasted 10 years arguing about the role of the public and private sectors,” says Amin, “and our competitors have moved ahead of us.” He believes we need a leader who, like Kennedy, can pitch a big investment as a “moonshot,” but laments that “we’ve got gridlock on policy and uncertainty with investment.”

Okay, let's think for a minute... Of the choices facing us in November, which candidate/party is more likely to see the need for investing large amounts of money in such a thing? Spend for the common good, which, OMG, might require the redistribution of tax money.

It's a concrete example of the future that will result if the Ryan/Rominee approach to taxes and spending is allowed to happen. But, hey, who cares, right? Long as we're protecting tax cuts, people can afford generators in their penthouses. Power their car elevators, feed their dressage horses. Shouldn't be a problem.

So never mind.


Lovers


Rush Limbaugh sees no evidence that President Obama loves America. It's an interesting concept, isn't it? How does a person show his love for America? With bumper stickers? Flags flapping near their gun racks? Support-our-troops magnets? Doing oxycontin? Not, evidently, by willingness to pay taxes to support those troops, or pay for what America needs. Or to accept the fundamental concepts of democracy. Like voting rights. Providing for a well-informed electorate. Respecting minorities, leaving religion out of our politics. No, evidently just saying you love America is enough. Actions aren't. Except for the action where you say you love America.

Not, with respect to our president, stuff like killing terrorists, saving the auto industry, ending the recession. Not increasing drilling for oil, proposing regulations to prevent another Wall Street meltdown and bailout. Supporting equal rights doesn't count. And, most assuredly, neither does trying to provide access to health care for those Americans Rush Limbaugh doesn't see as Americans. Poor people, non-white people. People not born here. Democrats. Liberals. Not Americans, that's for damn sure. Can't try to help those people while loving America. The America Rush loves fits into his studio, especially if he's not there.

Trying to improve American education doesn't qualify as love, evidently. Working to see to it that America remains part of the picture when it comes to innovation, research, energy independence. Doesn't count. Isn't flapping in the breeze like a flag, isn't in-your-face-America-fuck-yeah enough. Isn't on talk radio or sung by Ted Nugent. Ending wars isn't America-loving. Neither is reaching out to the opposing party and having his hand bitten off. Not America-loving. Not a shred of evidence.

Rush, on the other hand, loves America. Well, as long as you don't include its citizens; not the ones that disagree with him, the ones that support voting rights, women's health, or returning tax rates for the very wealthy to where they were when America was booming like a sage grouse in springtime. To Rush, America is white, male, and Republican; anything else is the object of venomous hate. But by golly he loves the country and Obama doesn't. The invective he spews toward Americans like raw sewage into a pristine creek is love, I guess; the efforts Obama has made aren't. Seems clear to me.

How do you love a country? Bring it candy? George Bush did just that, when he gave it drugs and didn't ask it to pay for them, took it to war for free. Do you sing loud and get teary-eyed, while refusing to countenance paying taxes at a rate that ensures the country's future? Is that love? And if it is, will you still love her in the morning? Seriously: what constitutes court-of-law evidence of a person's love of country? Like all of his RWS™ compadres, Rush didn't serve in the military like I did, so we know it's not that. What is it, I wonder, and, other than taking your lover's word for it, how do you know?

[Addendum: now he's upped the anti (yes, I know) -- it's not merely that President Obama doesn't love America: he hates it. I don't doubt for a minute -- having former friends who buy in like it was a cookie drive -- that his followers will eat it up. When you hear the despicable ranting, you see it's nothing but the weaving together of molecules of thin air. Wild claims, based on nothing. But there it is: America's most listened-to authority, guiding teabaggers and other crazies like the pied piper, the pie-eating prevaricator. This is our country. This is our politics.

And now, following Rush's directions, it appears, absent much in the way of specific and positive reasons for support of their own candidate, the operative meme for all of these mendacious Rs from now on, including The Rominee himself, will be to question Obama's Americanism.

Hate to say it yet again, but these really are awful people. There's no getting around it.]